By Kabir Yusuf,
While President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria repeatedly claims that security has improved under his administration, a new poll shows that the majority of Nigerians feel less safe than they did five years ago.
The report – World Risk Poll – shows that three in five Nigerians (61 per cent) feel less safe than they did five years ago. The report was authored by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, an independent global charity working to engineer a safer world.
The organisation gathered data from 125,000 people in 121 countries in order to get a global picture of the risk landscape, examining people’s experiences and perceptions of commonly faced risks, from pandemics and climate change to work-related accidents and road traffic collisions.
“Our aim is to help governments, regulators, inter-governmental bodies, businesses, NGOs, communities, and researchers use the findings to inform and target policies and interventions that save lives and help people feel safer,” the foundation said.
“We also intend the World Risk Poll to encourage other organisations to partner with us to create programmes and initiatives that help tackle the issues raised.”
According to the data – collected in 2021 – Nigeria is the country with the fourth highest proportion of people who report feeling less safe than five years ago, languishing behind only Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Venezuela.
At 61 per cent, this number has increased by a dramatic 26 percentage points since the last World Risk Poll in 2019, when 35 per cent of Nigerians reported feeling less safe.
While the Covid-19 pandemic may have played a role, the reasons behind this increase are likely linked to the country experiencing a wave of crime and violence in 2021 that included terrorism and kidnappings, the report said.
This is reflected in the poll results, with half (50 per cent) of the 1,000 Nigerians polled saying they, or someone they know, have experienced serious harm from violent crime in the past two years. This is more than double the number in 2019 when this figure stood at 22 per cent.
“The results from Nigeria are very concerning,” said Sarah Cumbers, Director of Evidence and Insight at Lloyd’s Register Foundation. “Amid a global pandemic, the continued fear of those we polled shows that greater action must be taken to improve safety.
“It’s worth noting that, although the violent crime was the biggest perceived threat to safety, other areas, including road or traffic accidents and severe weather also scored highly,” she said.
“Globally, especially in regions that already face widespread poverty and instability, governments and other policymakers must work with communities to build strategies to protect people from future pandemics that also account for the other risks they may now find themselves even more vulnerable to.”
Other safety risks Nigerians feel ‘very worried’ about include road or traffic accidents (59 per cent), severe weather (49 per cent), and the work they do (37 per cent).
Significantly, all areas of risk that Nigerians were polled about in 2019 saw an increase in responses of people feeling very worried in 2021.
Among the report’s most insightful findings is the fact that Covid-19 only ranks fourth among respondents’ most named threats – though the report also highlights growing concerns surrounding climate change and mental health, as well as a global underestimation of work-related harm risks.
About the report
For this second edition of the poll, the researchers conducted around 125,000 interviews in 121 countries last year, gathering insight from people around the world, including those living in places where little or no official data on safety and risk exists.
Spread across four themed reports, the poll covers the biggest risks facing people and communities globally, ranging from road crashes, severe weather, climate change, and disaster resilience, to work-related harm, violence, harassment at work, and use of personal data.
The study builds on the results from the inaugural poll in 2019 and explores how the relationship between perception and experience of risk may have shifted over time, including differences before and after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It also provides an understanding of how demographic factors contribute to different groups of people worrying about, and experiencing risks, in different ways.
The foundation hopes that the research will be repeated at least two more times, in 2023 and 2025.
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